Charcoal Cargo Causes Boxship Fire


The Swedish Club, in its Fire Guide, reports of a containership fire because of charcoal cargo.

The Incident

A container vessel was sailing in open sea when smoke could be seen coming out from the vent of one of the cargo holds. The Master sounded the general alarm and all crew were mustered and accounted for. A fire team was assembled and proceeded to shut off the ventilation and close the fire dampers for the cargo hold. An access hatch cover was opened for the fire team to enter the cargo hold, but it was full of smoke and there was no visibility so the fire team turned back and closed the hatch.

The Master made the decision to release CO2 into the cargo hold and the vessel turned back to its last port of call. After the CO2 had been released some smoke could still be seen coming from the cargo hold but it was less than before. The crew could not find any hot spots on deck and when they inspected the adjacent cargo hold there were no hotspots or discoloration. After the vessel berthed the local fire brigade embarked and confirmed that the fire was extinguished.


The cargo manifest did not show any dangerous cargo loaded into the affected cargo hold. However it was found that the container that caught fire was loaded with charcoal and that the shipper had declared the charcoal as not IMDG dangerous cargo.

The shipper had misdeclared the cargo. Laboratory tests confirmed that the cargo should have been classed as dangerous cargo as per IMDG Code class 4.2.

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Source: The Swedish Club


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